Partnerships

Partnerships

The last of these four principles sets the background within which all Service Learning takes place: that of working in mutually beneficial, ongoing partnerships that collaboratively work to address real needs within each of the communities involved. We are clear from the start that both the College and its partner organisations will come into any Service Learning relationship with needs that must be both heard and honoured, if the relationship is to succeed and develop. Structured Service Learning programs at All Saints’ College will be set in the context of ongoing partnerships, so that they can provide meaningful service that addresses real needs for the partner organisation, and also provide opportunities for students of the College to learn and grow.

At its most basic level, all service occurs in the context of relationship, and the depth of the relationship between those involved dictates the level at which any service is able to occur. The idea of ongoing partnerships creates a space for the service offered to be one of increasing intimacy and value, as trust is earned and given by each member of the partnership. The level of help which an individual will offer or accept is in direct proportion to the level of trust which people have for each other. I may allow a stranger to guide me as I reverse my car into a parking bay, but I will only entrust those with whom I have a suitable relationship to undertake this task on my behalf.

In essence, the building of strong partnerships is the basis for the exploration of diversity and the platform from which meaningful service and targeted learning within a program can be built. We can see evidence of strong and mutually beneficial partnerships through the following indicators:

  • Collaboration to establish shared values and to set shared goals that meet the needs of both communities.
  • Members of each community are involved in the development and implementation of plans to meet specific service goals.
  • Strong and regular communication that establishes goals and keeps both communities informed about progress and plans for shared activities.
  • Connection and working-alongside approach to activities facilitates the relationship between the members of each community.
  • There is a mutual understanding of the value that the relationship between the communities holds for both partner organisations.
  • The service partnership provides opportunities for members of each community to share in the life of the other organisation and to develop an understanding of the culture and value of each other.

While all service is of value, the aim of a program with scope and sequence means that any service needs to be a part of a coherent structure that contributes to the growth and development of all involved. For this reason, service in the context of ongoing partnerships is central to the aims of Service Learning. Ongoing and integrated partnerships provide the space for service to exist at a deeper level. Otherwise it becomes no more than bonded labour, service where the hands are active, but neither the head nor the heart is engaged.